At the recently concluded Financial Literacy Challenge organised by Visa and the CcHub, Team MoneyTalks emerged winner of the N1.2 million grand prize. We caught up with the team and here is what they had to say:
Q. What is MoneyTalks? (The platform, the solution and problem it solves, and how it works)
A. We believe that financial education is key to raising the standard of living of the average Nigerian. Attempts at financial education have so far been micro scale. There is a need to have a large, wide-spread forum available to all Nigerians through many different access channels.
That is why we decided to build MoneyTalks, an audio-based forum for any Nigerian to get financial advice on various issues that matter to them. Nigerians generally find it hard to open up about their finances; MoneyTalks is private and anonymous. The financial advice is in audio format and will be available in 5 languages – English, Yoruba, Pidgin, Igbo and Hausa. Users are allowed to submit a question and will be notified as new lessons are available.
With the right push this can be an important tool for addressing poverty.
Q. Who are the people that make up Team MoneyTalks and what did they contribute?
A. Ihesie Peter is a senior software developer on Microsoft technology stack, an innovative mind exploring how technology can be used to address some of the challenges faced in Nigeria and Africa. As the team lead, he ensured the overall coordination of the various units and was also part of the interactive voice response (IVR) development team.
Afolabi Legunsen is a pragmatic software developer with years of experience in desktop/enterprise software development, mobile and web application development. He was also part of the web UI and application unit, and ensured that the audio files played over the web. Osagie Osemwegie has a BSc in computer engineering frrom National Research University (Moscow Power Engineering Institute). He is currently a software developer at Appzone Limited. He made sure that Nigerians will be able to get financial information using the SMS platform. He also developed and tested the engine.
Dolapo Popoola is a financial expert with a strong passion for sharing her wealth of knowledge with Nigerians. She was the only lady on the team, and brought on board her knowledge which was very instrumental to the success of the project. She provided all the financial knowledge-base.
Q. How did you arrive at developing the final solution?
A. One of the first things we wanted to bring to the team was a relaxed and fun atmosphere that will enable creativity from all the team members. We started by talking about ourselves and our personal opinion about the project.
Key questions we asked early were: How will we make our solution applicable in Nigeria? What will make people call or send the first SMS to the system? We also deliberated on the sustainability of the product.
In other to make it easily accessible to most Nigerians, we decide to build a multi-channel entry to the solution via web, SMS, mobile and interactive voice response systems. The content were also produced in English and local languages.
Q. Do you have any comments on the hackathon organizers?
A. It takes foresight to put things like this together. Visa and CcHub have demonstrated their commitment to improving the society they operate in.
Q. What happens next?
A. Due to the time constraint, we developed a basic prototype of the solution. Over the next few months, we will be developing a full working version.
Here is how you can checkout and test MoneyTalks:
1. To test the interactive voice system, call +18154100007
2. To us SMS, send MT English to +18154100007
3. You can also visit the mobile site or the Facebook page.
You can check out the MoneyTalks pitch deck as well as more photos from the event.